Podcasting Without Podcasting
The podosphere is a vibrant, exciting place to be. It introduces you to people all over the world, and because you hear their voices, you feel as though you really know them. Podcasts provide a terrific free education in almost any subject. They offer a cure for the boredom of rush-hour traffic and long lines at the grocery store, and an alternative to the bland, lowest-common-denominator programming afflicting commercial radio.
But producing a podcast takes a lot Podcasts of time. Not everyone can podcast. Not everyone should podcast. I have a terrible name for an audio environment. You might have a voice like fingernails on a blackboard. But whatever your reason for not producing your own show, don’t let not podcasting keep you out of the podosphere. There are hundreds of podcasters who will give you ‘airtime’ for the asking–and thank you for it.
Comments Are King
Comments are king in the world of podcasting. Podcasters love to hear from their listeners. Almost all podcasters want a conversation, not a monologue. They also need to keep coming up with interesting content, show after show, and listener suggestions, questions, and comments help them do that.
Comments are also a great way to establish yourself as an expert. I’m not talking about posting ads for your business on podcast blogs, though some shows on marketing do invite listeners to submit promos and business plans for evaluation. I’m talking about joining in the conversation the podcaster has started.
Even though podcasters are more relaxed and approachable than radio talk-show hosts, they still have an obligation to make their shows interesting to their listeners. Everyone likes to hear ‘I think your show is wonderful,’ but comments like that don’t really serve you, the podcaster, or the other listeners.
First, find podcasts that you love. Then respond to anything that you have something useful to say about. Did the host ask for tips on how to use a product or service you’re familiar with? Can you add new insight to the discussion of a controversial topic? Do you have breaking news relevant to the listeners? Can you point them to a resource? Are you burning to know the answer to a question that came to you while listening to the show?
You should, of course, always identify yourself by name and website when you leave comments. If you can provide helpful, interesting comments and ask provocative questions over a period of time, both the podcasters and the listeners will take notice.
My most amazing experience as a commenter happened on the Diary of a Shameless Self-Promoter podcast back in 2005. Heidi Miller had asked listeners to submit their ‘two-second-statements’ (very short elevator speeches). I sent her mine (‘I turn consultants into authors’), and she talked about it on the show for eight minutes. I had someone call to inquire about work even before I’d listened to the episode myself. You can’t pay for that kind of exposure.
I continue to get almost embarrassingly positive responses from podcasters just because I take the time to comment. Here are a few examples.
‘Sallie Goetsch is the conscience of this podcast.’ (Tee Morris, The Survival Guide to Writing Fantasy)
‘Wow, how amazing, you listening to my little old podcast after I have heard many of your comments on other people’s shows!’ (Anna Farmery, The Engaging Brand)
‘We know we’ve made it when Sallie Goetsch (rhymes with “sketch”) leaves a comment.’ (Terry Fallis, Inside PR)
‘Wow, a comment from THE Sallie Goetsch… I feel important all of a sudden 🙂 First off, how did you (someone important and respected in the community) end up on my blog/podcast? It just seems unfathomable.’ (Reid Givens, Return on Intention)
These quotes say a lot more about podcasting than about me. All I did was get involved because I was genuinely interested in the podcasters and what they had to say. All you have to do to get similar results is to find podcasts that you care enough about to do the same.
As with anything in the world of New Media, don’t fake it. Ever. If all you care about is pushing your services, both the podcasters and the listeners will spot it a mile away. Buy an ad instead. (Though even advertisers have to take a new approach to podcasting, as Chip Griffin of CustomScoop does with his ‘Media Monitoring Minute’ segment on FIR and NewComm Road.)
If by some odd chance you come across a podcast that doesn’t play listener comments, move on and put your efforts into one that will.
Many podcasters use an interview format for their shows. That means they’re always looking for interesting guests who have something to teach their listeners.
Before you pitch yourself as an interview subject, get to know the podcast-and the podcaster. Listen to a few episodes and read the show blog. If you post interesting comments, the host might ask to interview you without any prompting from you.
As with any media appearance, concentrate on providing interesting information. Don’t sell during the interview. The podcaster will give you a chance to plug your website, book, etc at the end of the interview.